Braves' all-time Top 5 in-season trades
Summer of 1987 deal brought in Atlanta great Smoltz from Detroit
Will the Braves swing a deal before the July 31 Trade Deadline? Sometimes it takes years to determine how well a team did in a trade. With the benefit of hindsight, the following are the five most notable trades in franchise history that were conducted during the regular season, according to Mark Bowman. Agree? Disagree? Comment below:
1. Aug. 12, 1987: The Braves received right-hander John Smoltz from the Tigers in exchange for fellow righty Doyle Alexander.
Before he became the manager who had the pleasure of running out starting rotations that included Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Smoltz, Bobby Cox was the general manager who brought Smoltz to Atlanta with the most significant trade in franchise history. When the deal was made, Smoltz was a 20-year-old pitcher with a 5.68 ERA at the Double-A level. Twenty years later, he stood as one of the top-five pitchers in franchise history.
While playing in Atlanta from 1988-2008, Smoltz won a National League Cy Young Award ('96) and became the only pitcher in Major League history to record both 200 wins and 150 saves.
Alexander carried Detroit to the playoffs in 1987, going 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in the 11 regular-season starts he made for the Tigers after the deal, but he retired two years later.
2. July 18, 1993: The Braves received first baseman Fred McGriff from the Padres for outfielders Vince Moore and Melvin Nieves, and right-hander Donnie Elliott.
Braves fans will always remember the press box fire that started just a few hours before McGriff made his debut at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on July 20, 1993. It is symbolically viewed as the night McGriff lit a fire under their club. The powerful first baseman homered that evening and hit .310 with a 1.004 OPS in the 68 games he played while helping the Braves win a third consecutive NL West crown that year.
McGriff earned three All-Star selections while playing four full seasons for Atlanta. Elliott made 31 appearances for San Diego over two seasons and Nieves served as a backup outfielder during his two years with San Diego. Moore never made it to the Majors.
3. July 31, 1999: The Braves received left-hander Terry Mulholland and shortstop Jose Hernandez from the Cubs in exchange for pitchers Micah Bowie, Ruben Quevedo and Joey Nation.
Mulholland provided the Braves the veteran presence they needed as he served as a starter and reliever while Smoltz dealt with a sore elbow late in the 1999 season. Hernandez provided the defensive stability the club needed to compensate for Walt Weiss' struggles.
This trade helped Atlanta make its most recent trip to the World Series. Meanwhile Bowie, Quevedo and Nation all saw limited time with the Cubs at the big league level.
4. July 14, 2010: The Braves acquired shortstop Alex Gonzalez, left-hander Tim Collins and infielder Tyler Pastornicky from Toronto for shortstop Yunel Escobar and lefty Jo-Jo Reyes.
In exchange for Escobar, who had worn out his welcome in Atlanta, and Reyes, who never lived up to his status as a promising prospect, the Braves benefited from the steady defense Gonzalez provided during the year and a half he spent in Atlanta. While Pastornicky will likely never play shortstop on an everyday basis, he provides value as a versatile infielder who has shown promising offensive skills.
5. July 31, 2011: The Braves received center fielder Michael Bourn from the Astros for pitchers Juan Abreu, Paul Clemens and Brett Oberholtzer, and outfielder Jordan Schafer.
Bourn's impact as a leadoff hitter did not prevent the Braves from collapsing during the final month of his first season in Atlanta, but his presence at the top of the lineup helped the Braves reach the postseason in 2012. The value of this deal was enhanced this year, when the Braves claimed Schafer after the Astros designated him for assignment in November. Through this season's first half, Schafer has started to live up to his potential and provide the value Houston was seeking.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.